In today’s world, many Singaporeans are getting affluent, making it necessary for everyone to draft a will. A will ensures that the assets an individual possesses are smoothly handled down to their beneficiaries. Many people are assuming that you need a lawyer to make a will. But the fact is, under the Singaporean Law, you do not necessarily need to hire anyone to draft your will in Singapore. Hence, if you do everything right, you can write a perfectly valid will yourself and hold up the document in a Singapore court when your executor applies for a grant of probate. So, here are some of the things that you need to understand while creating your will so that you can pass down the assets to your loved ones.
1. Cost of the Will
No sum is too small to make a will. A will can be written in SGD 200 – SGD 300. But, when you hire a will writer or will lawyer to draft one for you, there are costs involved which can usually be range in the hundreds of Singaporean dollars. The cost to making a will can differ based on who your hiring, what type of will you are making, and the complexity of the document. There are different types of wills in Singapore:
Joint wills – The will is made by two people (e.g. married couple).
Mutual wills – These wills are separate and individually made with similar content. But the will might only be revoked by agreement between two testators (people writing each will).
Mirror wills – These wills are similar to mutual wills, but each person can revoke their respective wills without the consent of the other.
The amount spent to make a will is small compared to the ransom families spend over a disputed inheritance.
2. Consider the Legal Requirements
In the absence of a valid will, the state will decide how your assets will be distributed, and they will follow the Intestate Succession Act (ISA). While not having a will might not be an ideal situation, having an invalid will can bring you an adverse outcome. You need to make sure that you meet the legal requirements first. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Prepare full name and identification number of the following
-Spouse and children
-Guardian(s), for minor children
- Complete the process in one sitting
- You need to be at least 21 years old and of sound mind
- You need to have two witnesses (other than your beneficiaries) and they should sign the will in your presence.
- Muslims in Singapore do not follow the Intestate Succession Act.
If you do not adhere to the requirements mentioned above, your will could be considered invalid.
3. Choose People You Know
You have to be responsible enough to choose the right people as your executors, guardians of your children, or trustees. These people need to agree with you to address the estate matters quickly, effectively communicate with your beneficiaries, and make hard decisions for you when necessary. If you do not have any responsible friends and family members, you can always hire an attorney, accountant, bank or trust company as your executor.
4. Mention All Your Assets
A schedule of assets is an important document which should be appended with your will. It states a list of assets that you possess like properties, bank accounts, investments, and overseas assets that are under your name. The reason for making a schedule of assets is to let your executor locate your assets and distribute them as per your will. If you do not pin down where your assets are, it can be a challenge for your executor to identify and distribute those assets when the time comes.
5. Decide the Number of People You Want to be Provided
You can easily add the list of people you want to be provided for in your will. It can include your immediate family, your extended family, close friends, charitable organizations, and many more. Also, decide how you want the assets to be distributed accordingly among them. Mention everything clearly in the will.
6. Notify the Beneficiaries
Your beneficiaries cannot be one of the two witnesses to get you to sign off your will. In fact, there is no requirement for your beneficiaries to be involved in the will, know the details, or even notify them of the will. But, if you feel that your beneficiaries need to know the details of the will, then you can notify them.
7. Choose the Witnesses Signing Your Will
You can get anyone (preferably close or trusted friends) to be a witness to your will. It is recommended to get people who can outlive you so that they can testify the validity of the will.
8. What’s Not Covered Under the Will
In Singapore, there are certain things that you do not include in your will, such as:
- CPF accounts – The balance in CPF accounts cannot be included in your will. CPF accounts include CPF savings, unused CPFC LIFE premiums, and discounted SingTel shares that you might own.
- Property under joint tenancy – If you own property under joint tenancy, the right of survivorship will apply in your will. For instance, if you have ownership of a flat under joint tenancy, your apartment will automatically get passed on to your remaining owner or co-owners.
- Joint savings accounts – Joints saving accounts are similar to joint tenancy. The right of ownership for assets which are jointly owned gets passed down automatically to the co-owner.
- Insurance – The insurance monies will also go to your nominated beneficiary.
Knowing what is covered and not in your will, will help you allocate the assets to your beneficiaries.
Writing a will is a simple task, but you need to be sound and conscious about how complex you want your document to be. Ensure your intentions and distribute your estate to your loved ones wisely.
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